Becoming A Sober Mommy
For the first two years of my son’s life, I was an alcoholic who didn’t drink, but still allowed the disease to run my life. It was a scary time.
I never hurt my son physically, but I probably scared him a few times with my anger. Sometimes I just couldn’t handle the everyday parent stuff, and I’d freak out. I’m sure this happens to non-alcoholic parents too – those times when you are just so tired, and so emotionally worn out, that you completely lose your shit when the baby throws his food on the floor for the nineteenth time. Normal baby behavior, but while in the throes of my disease, I didn’t have the tools to handle my own stress – let alone the stress that comes with being a parent. There were more tears, screaming and breakdowns than I’d like to admit.
I never really thought my behavior affected my son all that much. When I yelled, that obviously affected him but the other mistakes I made – those were bad for my marriage, but I didn’t see how it made me a bad mother. However, when my husband wanted a divorce and asked me if the choices I was making were worth giving up half my son’s life, I was floored. I had never thought about it like that, of course he was right. If he divorced me (and Lord knows he had ample reasons to), I would miss out on so much of my son’s life. Sheer terror filled me at that thought.
Of course my actions affected him. How stupid and naïve was I to believe otherwise? I was given further proof that afternoon when I went to leave. We had decided I would stay at my supervisor’s house and we would share custody of Colt during the separation. My bags were packed and I was crying as I knelt to hug my son good-bye. He put his little arms around me and said, “Don’t go, mama. You stay.” I lost it at his little voice quietly telling me to stay. He knew something was different – he had never told me to stay when I was saying good-bye at daycare.
Those words haunt me. But, in the end, he got his way. I stayed, and I worked hard, and fought for our family. I opened the old wounds, cleaned them out and let them bleed freely, so that instead of a nasty, moldering old scab, I now have a scar. I confronted my past, took responsibility for my behaviors and made amends to my loved ones – including my son.
I make daily amends to my son. These days, there is less yelling. When I feel my temper start to rise, I spot-check my feelings to find the real cause. I don’t take my emotions out on him anymore. If I do have an outburst, I apologize and explain how even though anger is ok, I shouldn’t have yelled. We spend real, quality time together, instead of just inhabiting the same space at the same time. Being his mommy is more important than any job I could ever have. I accept his unconditional love, because I finally feel like I am worthy of it. The joy I feel as a truly sober mommy is indescribable.